Crime and Punishment

In Robert Bolt’s play, A Man for All Seasons, Thomas More is put on trial for his life and Richard Rich, a former colleague, testifies against him. More becomes aware that Rich has betrayed him in return for appointment as Attorney General for Wales and says:

“Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world… but for Wales?”

Of late a good many public servants have been betraying themselves and their constituents often for much less than that. The recent melodrama in New York State is simply the latest in a series of incidents in which public servants have failed significantly to uphold the office to which they were elected. I list below five recent instances of scandalous behavior by elected officials. See whether you can match the offense with the consequence.

1. Senator – involved with call girls

2. Governor – accepted a free hot tub from a contractor

3. Governor – paid for prostitutes with laundered money

4. President – lied about sexual misbehavior

5. President – authorized torture of prisoners


A. Forced to resigned; served a jail term

B. Impeached but not convicted

C. Apologized to colleagues and continues to serve

D. Made no apology and continues to serve

E. Forced to resign

[Answers: e3, d5, c1, b4, a2.]

“My object all sublime,” sings the Mikado in the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta of the same name, “is to make the punishment fit the crime.” Seems to me we have a long way to go!

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